Lakeside Arts
Part of University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts

University of Nottingham Chamber Choir standing distances in the Djanogly Recital Hall. About 30 people stand wearing black against a brown wall

University of Nottingham Chamber Choir

Thomas Tallis O nata lux 
Recorded in Isolation, March 2021

In their latest 'Virtual Choir' project, discover how the University Chamber Choir have adapted to our unique circumstances to bring rehearsals online and to sing in experimental new ways. Hear from those involved in bringing together this special project and enjoy their final performance of O nata lux.

Aqua Quotation Marks

Making music is a vital part of the University experience for many students from all academic disciplines. The University Chamber Choir, along with University Choir and University Philharmonia, provide opportunities for students to rehearse and perform music together to an extraordinarily high standard. This academic year it has not been possible, of course, for these large ensembles to rehearse; however, our professional freelance conductors Jonathan Tilbrook and Calum Fraser have delivered some online rehearsals for University Philharmonia and Chamber Choir which have enabled students to meet online and connect musically in a fashion. I am deeply impressed by the dedication, enthusiasm and the results of the University Chamber Choir's online performance of Tallis's O nata lux and I'm looking forward to the time when students can once again rehearse together in person."

Catherine Hocking, Head of Music Programmes, Lakeside Arts

Photograph of Catherine Hocking


Aqua Quotation Marks

Having weekly choir rehearsals cancelled in March 2020, I had no opportunities for a musical outlet in my life. I was excited about the prospect of a virtual edition of Chamber Choir because I knew we could produce something of good quality. With careful warm-ups and breathing exercises in the beginning, Calum helped me restore my singing voice and skilfully guided the choir into producing a good piece of music, even at a distance. Although I could only hear myself singing, I still felt part of a group and I hope our finished version of O nata lux shows how much we were happy to sing together again."

Marina Serdar (alto)
PhD student in Molecular Microbiology, Year 3



We have all been eagerly waiting for Chamber Choir to recommence, so when we were told rehearsals would be starting virtually you can imagine how excited we were! Over 5 weeks we rehearsed via Microsoft Teams, and I was surprised at how valuable I found it as we only worked on 1 piece so we could focus on details like consistent vowel sounds and healthy technique. Singing along to a recording during rehearsals was difficult as we couldn't react naturally to the conductor or to our collective sound, and I definitely missed hearing our sound transform throughout a live rehearsal. Even though we were miles apart, every rehearsal was both beneficial and entertaining, and we certainly kept up the social element that makes Chamber Choir so enjoyable!"

Scarlett Taylor (soprano)
Music, 3rd Year

After a lengthy, COVID enforced singing hiatus, the virtual choir project provided a great way to ease back into organized music once more. It was good fun to learn some new material, although the format wasn’t without its challenges. The technology side of things presented a new obstacle to think about, with my WIFI constantly misbehaving. Musically too, I found it harder to get the same understanding of how each part played off the others, without the live feedback of other voices – which challenged me to approach the piece in a different way. It was highly rewarding to hear it all come together for the final recording and I look forward to the next project!"

Benjamin Ball (tenor)
Psychology, 2nd Year


This virtual choir project has melded together really well, much better than any other project I’ve been a part of within lockdown. I think the key was finding a piece that sounds brilliant whilst being relatively easy to learn, due to the ongoing COVID situation. The main difficulty has been the fact that we had no way of listening to each other, which is key to a successful choir. That being said, the end result sounds fabulous and we managed to create some beautiful music even though we were not allowed to meet."

Fraser Ellson (tenor)
Music, 2nd Year


After a term of no music, it has been so nice to sing with the Chamber Choir this term, even if it has been virtual. It’s a lovely break after a full day of lectures and something different to look forward to each week. The hardest thing was having to record alone and really focusing on the diction and getting it to match everyone else’s without hearing them." 

Elizabeth McShane (soprano)
Medicine, 1st Year


The internet has been full of ‘Virtual Choir’ projects over the last year, taking the successful model first used by Eric Whitacre in 2010. In the absence of in-person rehearsals and concerts this semester, we decided to perform as an ensemble in this 21st century fashion. We selected the piece O nata lux by Thomas Tallis, as the work nicely fits the voices at our disposal, and we were able to have a few weeks of online rehearsals. These were crucial in order for everyone to sing in the same way; something that is so difficult when physically apart. Students then recorded themselves singing along to guide tracks so that they were all at exactly the same speed and, after some technical wizardry, we are finally able to perform as an ensemble once again! – Calum Fraser, Musical Director, University of Nottingham


Enjoy a sneak peek to see how the University Chamber Choir has been rehearsing in lockdown:


Owing to Covid-19 restrictions and guidance, the University Chamber Choir have been rehearsing online. Enjoy a peek at what they get up to during rehearsals:

For more information about the University of Nottingham's Chamber Choir please contact Head of Music Programmes, Catherine Hocking:

LSA and Part of University of Nottingham Logo